HeadOn Retraction?

While I was away from e-mail last week, I received three messages from Dan Charron at HeadOn, telling me that the doctor quoted in the story that questions HeadOn’s effectiveness had issued a retraction.

Dr. Larry Newman’s “retraction” looks more like a clarification to me. Namely, that he did not directly say that potassium dichromate 6X, as it is used in HeadOn, is dangerous. In the original article, he said “It’s used to develop photographic prints and if you read about it, it says it should not come in contact with the skin.”

Potassium dicromate is highly diluted in HeadOn, so it doesn’t pose the same risks as it does in its full strength. Dr. Newman does not say that HeadOn itself is dangerous, but that the active ingredient in it is.

Is this splitting hairs? I don’t know because the original article is no longer available. Acting on e-mail messages similar to the one that I received, I assume, WCBS-TV has changed the article. They didn’t, as is usual procedure, add a clarification or retraction along with the article. Instead, they deleted parts of the original story.

Now people who are looking for information on HeadOn and potassium dichromate, like me, can’t judge for themselves based on the information presented. I can’t give you any more information from the original story, but I can give you what I received from HeadOn.

The e-mail from Dan Charron at HeadOn:

“Dr. Newman has retracted his words in a public retraction letter which I have attached to this message. His words were absolutely false, unfounded and misleading and the attached letter clearly indicates that Potassium dichromate 6X is clearly safe and presents no health risk whatsoever, the same being true for all other ingredients in HeadOn.”

The letter that Dr. Newman sent to HeadOn:

“I am writing this letter to correct certain statements recently attributed to me. To the best of my knowledge, potassium dicromate 6X, one of the active ingredients in HeadOn, is safe when applied directly to the forehead — and I never intended to imply otherwise. To the best of my knowledge, there is also no reason to question the safety of any other ingredients identified on the product label in the concentrations listed.”

Whatever the case may be, Dr. Christina Peterson, also a headache specialist, reinforced the potential danger of the chemical after my first post on the topic:

“I can only imagine it is being allowed to be marketed because a) it is not generally absorbed through the skin and b) the concentration is fairly low. I certainly would not risk skin cancer when there is zero evidence of either efficacy testing or safety testing.”

In any case, potassium dichromate itself is a harmful chemical, even if the product contains a very low level of it. Since there is no evidence that it is safe or effective, why risk it?